A baby's temperament is largely determined by the baby's genetics. Some babies are easy going. Other babies seem to be a bit shy (or slow to warm up to strangers). Other babies could be classified as difficult, and they fuss and cry more and are harder to soothe. Temperament (at least the part due to genetics) is fairly constant. Another contributor to temperament is the parenting/caretaking of the child. One time we had a friend care for my son while I went to work, because my wife was ill. The inexperienced mother who cared of him the first day was frazzled when I picked him up. Nicely, she said that it had been a really rough day. The next day an experienced mother who took care of him. She said that he was one of the easiest and most agreeable babies she had ever seen. The difference was that the second mother read his signs and met his needs quickly. When his needs were not met, he was demanding and difficult. When his needs were met, he was easy and agreeable. So the way temperament is manifest is a combination of both the child and the caretaking. [page 2] Personality is far more a matter of learned behavior patterns. There is a genetic component, but traits such as being cooperative, kind, caring, and helpful are learned patterns of behavior. As the child grows, traits such as industrious, honest, diligent, and friendly are also learned patterns of behavior. I am not saying that it is all up to the parents, it is not. The influences of genetics, caregivers, siblings, parents, extended family, and community all contribute to the growth and development of the child. As parents, we should model the type of behavior we want more of. We should look for and recognize the type of behavior we want more of, and and we should minimize the attention given to the type of behavior we want less of. Why? Because adult attention is almost always a builder of the behavior it is focused on. Finally, we need to take time to teach our children how to behave (or what behavior is expected). As parents, we have a large influence on our children. Let us do our best to make this the best influence possible.
Love, Laughter, and Limits was created to help you do just that, be a powerful, positive influence in the life of your sons and daughters.